Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Australia’s social policy agenda centre stage at OECD

Australia’s reforming social policy agenda will be highlighted at an international meeting in Paris this week.

The Minister for Families, Community Services, Housing and Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin will vice-chair an Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) meeting of social policy Ministers from 34 countries.

The meeting, held every five years, will discuss the impact of the global financial crisis and the role of social policy in steering economies through the crisis.

Ms Macklin will outline how Australia’s policy settings helped the nation withstand the impact of the global financial crisis better than most other advanced countries.

The Minister will also highlight the Government’s significant social policy reforms, including our welfare reform agenda.

The Australian Government has driven an ambitious welfare reform agenda focused on opportunity and responsibility.

We have increased the use of welfare and family payment conditionality to help achieve broader social outcomes; for example trialling the use of income management in child protection cases, and the new ‘learn or earn’ requirements on family payments for teenage children that will provide up to $4,000 a year extra for families of teenagers, but only if they stay in school.

The meeting will also discuss pension policy. Many OECD nations are grappling with demographic shifts as the population ages and the baby boomers begin to retire.

Ms Macklin will highlight the Labor Government’s 2009 pension reforms that led to a historic increase in the base pension, a more generous indexation system, and at the same time improve sustainability of the overall pension system.

The Government knows that the most disadvantaged people in society are the first to feel the pain when a nation hits hard economic times.

Although Australia weathered the global financial crisis better than other countries, many Australians still felt its effects.

As the economy recovers, the Government’s task is to ensure that all Australians are in a position to benefit from renewed growth and the opportunities it brings. In particular we are determined to ensure that more Australians can realise the benefits of work.

The Government has been working to build a strong and fair Australia, by striking the right balance between personal responsibility and government support.

The Building a Fairer Future: the role of Social Policy meeting at the OECD is chaired by Germany and vice-chaired by Iceland and Australia.

For more information on the OECD meeting visit